More of a power pop band than anything else, though they're nestled in Southern California's skate/snowboard punk scene, Unwritten Law formed early in the 1990s, with drummer Wade Youman the only holdover from the band's early days. The group eventually coalesced around vocalist Scott Russo, guitarists Rob Brewer and Steve Morris, bassist John Bell, and Youman.
After releasing their debut, Blue Room, on an independent label, Unwritten Law toured America several times but grew disgusted by the lack of distribution of their records. The band eventually signed to Epic, which re-released Blue Room and in 1996 issued a second album, Oz Factor. The group jumped labels yet again in 1997, to Interscope, and recorded its third album, the self-titled "black album," in 1998. Just before its release in June of that year, Bell left and was replaced by Sprung Monkey's Pat Kim. The album spawned a few semi-hits, like "Lonesome" and "Cailin," among the skate crowd. Three years later, the band issued its fourth full-length, Elva, in early 2002. Debut single "Seein' Red" was a hit on TRL and mainstream radio.
Before the year came to a close, Unwritten Law inked a major deal with Lava Records. The largely acoustic Music in High Places followed in early 2003. Recorded on location at Yellowstone National Park, the album was part of MTV's Music from High Places series, a sort of National Geographic Explorer for the Warped Tour set. As the band started recording its fifth studio effort in 2004, Tony Palermo (Pulley, the Jealous Sound) replaced Youman on drums. The Sean Beavan-produced Here's to the Mourning followed in February 2005, which did reasonably well, mostly due to the single "Save Me."
Brewer was kicked out of the band during a subsequent tour with Sum 41, apparently due to "volatile circumstances" between him and the rest of the group, and Unwritten Law decided to continue on as a four-piece instead of replacing him. Unwritten Law's installment for the 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection series was issued in fall 2006 by one of their old labels, Interscope, a suspect move considering the band was due to release its own greatest-hits compilation, The Hit List (which included various re-recordings and a new song), in early January 2007. Swan, the group's sixth studio album, arrived in 2011 via Suburban Noize Records. ~ John Bush, Rovi